An annual public service provided in these columns at great cerebral expense is an exceedingly complex strategy regarding
how to get the most from your football viewing and listening on New Year's Day. The key is to have at least three television sets and a VCR, or two and two, plus radio(s).
The Tournament of Roses Parade comes up live on all networks at 11 and, after viewing about three each floats and marching bands and the attending nonsensical chatter, the Hall of Fame Bowl between Tennessee and Boston College should prove a welcome sight. For a while. Stick with the blocks and tackles until sometime in the third period.
Switch that set to the Cotton Bowl and Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M; at 1 p.m. and turn on the second set to the Citrus Bowl between Ohio State and Syracuse at the same time. Remember, Cotton on the left, Citrus on the right.
If BC and Tennessee appears worth it, tape it on the set in the kid's room; otherwise, tune that baby in to the Blockbuster Bowl game between Penn State and Stanford and angle it so you can catch an occasional glimpse while making a trip to the kitchen or bathroom.
If stabbing pains begin to appear in the neck or upper shoulder region as the result of swiveling your head to catch all the action on the strategically placed sets, rest the abused muscles by tuning in 1090 on the radio dial and pick up the word account of the -- vs. -- game. A heating pad might not be a bad idea if there is an electrical outlet not already on overload.
It's clear sailing now until the Fiesta Bowl with Syracuse and Colorado and the Rose Bowl with Washington playing Michigan show up between 4:30 and 5 p.m. The whole day will be shot if, aloud and with great pride, you refer to the latter as "the grand-daddy of all the bowls."
Meanwhile and until the Orange Bowl, Nebraska vs. Florida State, and The Game, Miami vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, which are due to go at 8 and 8:30 p.m., respectively, there should be time to label all video and audio tapes for post-midnight perusal.
Don't forget to add several minutes for pre-game hype in all cases,and quick switches to the ESPN "SportsCenter" to get additional word on what's going on.
Unfortunately, what all this is apt to lead to at about midnight if directions are followed precisely is (1) a hellacious headache, (2) threats of legal separation, (3) a feeling that everything received by the senses has long since become a mish-mash, and (4) a sense that 14 hours have been totally wasted since highlight shows do an adequate job of covering the situation.
On the other hand, it's good practice for all those other days of the year when as many as a half-dozen events in as many different sports are running simultaneously on the networks, cable, pay-per-view, syndication and radio, both live and taped.
What, you may ask, is the TV Repairman's game plan to handle the electronic blitz. Elementary my dear Watson:
Jan. 1 always commences with the usual New Year's Resolution -- to wit, not to make resolutions -- and a leisurely drive to the Capital Centre, wherein both ways the roads are virtually free of traffic. At noon, the Washington Capitals are scheduled to play the New Jersey Devils and, with any luck, the game will go overtime.
Arrival back home usually coincides with the start of the second half of Michigan's annual licking in the Rose Bowl or the start of the late games, depending upon if a story on the hockey game is in order.
All attempts to tape early afternoon for later viewing were abandoned back around the time the Bluebonnet Bowl was in vogue because all I ever ended up with is blowouts or five minutes of pre-game talk and commercials before the VCR shut off.
Considering the network is scheduled to do five games in 30 hours time, don't be surprised if Brent Musburger shows up in the booth at all of them.
* ESPN will be on hand to do the Capitals-Chicago Blackhawks game from the Cap Centre Saturday. To accommodate, the Caps changed the starting time from 1:30 p.m. to noon and it will be carrying the Redskins playoff game, beginning at 12:30, on the concourse monitors. This all but assures that the concession stands will sell out.
* Quarterbacks Phil Simms and Jim Kelly go on ABC's "Good Morning America" to help provide Christmas gift ideas for you folks and what do they end up hawking? All the overpriced gear contained in the NFL Properties gift catalog. Gee, what a nice holiday touch.
* Imagine ABC's "Nightline," during a program exploring the issue of whether college football players should be paid or not, asking a player if he should be paid. What's the kid going to say, "No, I'm allergic to money and wouldn't know what to do with it anyway."
* For those viewers who complain watching golf on TV is like watching hubcaps rust, consider the Team Challenge telecasts last weekend when a three-woman team from the LPGA defeated their counterparts from the PGA and Senior PGA Tours.
* A tape entitled the "Most Memorable Moments in Super Bowl History" is in production and will be available for $20 five days before the biggie Jan. 31. What this suggests, of course, is that no one is expecting a memorable moment from this year's game. Poor Jackie Smith will have to watch himself drop that end-zone pass in SB XIII yet another time.
* The bad shill of the week award goes to CBS announcer Dick Stockton, who explained the preponderance of empty seats at a Jets game thusly: "It is not a capacity crowd here as they normally have for the Jets at Giants Stadium, but the fans here are very enthusiastic [during a 20-yard gain by the home team]." Uh, Dick, the Jets always have at least 10,000 no-shows and, come December, that number is usually in the neighborhood of 35,000.
* For my dough and working under the added disadvantage of working next to cliche-merchant Stockton, Randy Cross has provided the best commentary on NFL games this fall. A full ratings column is planned.